Parental overprotection and youth suicide behavior in low- and middle-income countries: a multilevel analysis of cross-national data

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Abstract

Objectives: Research on youth suicide behavior has emphasized parent–child relations as a critical protective factor. This study investigates whether “too much” regulation of children, i.e., overprotection, may actually increase the likelihoods of youth suicide intent and plan. Methods: Data are drawn from the subset of the Global School-based Student Health Survey (2000–2012), consisting of children living in 48 low- and middle-income countries. Two-level hierarchical linear models are fitted to examine the potential curvilinear (U-shaped) association between parental monitoring and suicide behavior among youth. Results: Adjusting for individual- and country-level covariates, significant support is found for non-monotonicity specifically among boys: Greater parental involvement in male children’s lives lowers both suicide ideation and suicide plan to some extent but, after certain thresholds, increases the odds of both outcomes. Results for girls, however, are much less pronounced. Conclusions: In resource-poor countries marked by some of the highest teenage suicide rates in the world, overprotective parenting style is found to have negative and gendered consequences on the mental health of youth. More research is needed to confirm its replicability in economically more developed societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-184
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Public Health
Volume64
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2019

Keywords

  • Global School-based Student Health Survey
  • Overprotection
  • Parental monitoring
  • Youth suicide behavior

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